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Create a backyard ready for play

When the weather’s mild there’s nothing standing in the way of you getting your kids outside and out of your way. Nothing, that is, except the way they seem to stand looking at you expectantly, waiting for you to entertain them. Most of us grew up playing outside for hours at a time, and never expected anyone to interfere or offer entertainment.

How can you create this inspiration for your children? First, take a close look at what you’re offering them when they go outside. Do you have a large open space with room to run? A compact, tidy, urban courtyard? A garden with trees and plants overgrown? Soft grass or hard pavement?

These are important factors to identify, and once you do you can begin planning ways to make your yard more welcoming for your kids, and more inspiring for independent play.

Other important elements to consider are the ages of your children, and what they like to do both indoors and out. Why should you consider what they like to do indoors? It may give you extra ideas for how they can enjoy their time outdoors. Some kids love sports, others love nature, others like to build and create things.

Take a weekend or two to set up your backyard to tempt your kids to get outside and stay outside, and watch them immerse themselves.

Consider creating different areas for different activities. Perhaps one area could be left open for running and sports, with a handy box of soccer balls and other active toys nearby. One area could be for sand and water play for kids who enjoy tactile play. Don’t stop with plain sand, bury shells, polished stones and other treasures for fun discovery. Does your child love to build things? Provide a stack of small pieces of wood in different shapes and sizes to encourage their creativity. A child fascinated by nature might be delighted with their own garden plot and pint-size tools, with a bird feeder and extra seed stored handily nearby.

Setting up an engaging and interesting backyard for your kids can be very affordable! You may have many of the toys and materials you need already, and there are plenty of great outside play items available used if you look. Climbers and playhouses are eventually grown out of, and can be purchased used for great deals. Add a sandbox and some sand toys, then consider some moving toys if you have some patio or smooth surface in your yard. Children will always find use for a wagon or small car.

What do your children love to do outside? Do they play independently, or do they look to you for ideas? We’d love to hear your experiences!

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Writer, editor, recovering chocoholic. Most often found writing, drinking coffee, and chasing kids. Find her on Twitter @littlemissmocha.

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